Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

L.L. Cool J: Radio [Def Jam, 1985]
Rick Rubin's thwonging minimalism and Cool J's proud polysyllables are fresh, def, and so forth. From the daring little piano hook of "I Can Give You More" to Russell Simmons's motormouth prevarications on "That's a Lie" to the humble love-man details of "I Want You," this is the most engaging and original rap album of the year. But the post-Run-D.M.C. school does betray a penchant for what you might call bourgeois individualism. Laying off messages is one thing, but the Hollis crew rarely projects much community or solidarity either. Which sometimes leaves a solo artist alone with his DJ and his fine self. B+